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Continuing my series on various hotel rewards programs (see previous post on La Quinta), today’s post is about a hotel brand that you may have heard of – Hilton!!
At least in my experience so far, the Hilton brands are my favorites for traveling with a large family. There are 2 main brands that I think make the most sense
Homewood Suites offer, as the name implies, suites rather than just standard hotel rooms. Many of the Homewood Suites locations have nothing but suites. But the thing that sets Homewood Suites apart from other “suite” hotels like say Country Inn & Suites or Best Western Suites is the availability of 2 bedroom suites. Most of the other suite-style hotels only offer 1BR suites, which are mostly just a small room in addition to a bedroom.
Now my kids are young enough that we can make a 1BR suite work, but a 2BR is much nicer (of course).
But the other thing that makes the Homewood Suites such a great hotel is that in addition to complimentary hot breakfast, from Monday – Thursday they have a “manager’s reception” in the evening which is basically free dinner. Now, the menu isn’t always what I would classify as “kid-friendly”, and it changes every day, but it’s definitely good value.
In December, we stayed at the Homewood Suites Dublin (Ohio).
Because our dates were flexible, I called ahead to ask about the dinner menu for the different days we were looking at, and picked the one that had the menu option that I thought would work best for the kids. We ended up going on a night with Cheese Ravioli as the main dish (also included were salad and breadsticks). Kids all loved it, and I loved not having to go out for dinner! The other option is that the Homewood Suites come with a basic kitchen including stove, refrigerator and dishwasher, so if you want, you could definitely bring / buy your own food and make it in the suite.
The Homewood Suites Dublin is a Category 4 Hilton hotel, which means that it costs 20,000 points / night. That covers just the 1 BR suite, but because I’m a Gold HHonors member (which is included with one of the Hilton credit cards I got), I asked for and got a complimentary upgrade to a 2 BR suite. Side note – the way Hilton prices award stays for the 2BR suites is wacked. You tell me if this makes sense. 1BR suite is 20,000 points or $129. A 2BR suite costs $169, so $40 more. $40 is roughly equivalent to 4,000 points (and that’s being generous). But instead, to reserve the 2BR suite with points, it’s 54,079 points. Way to be super-precise and ludicrous, Hilton!!!!
Anyways, for 20,000 points, we got a hotel night for 8, including dinner for 8 and breakfast for 8. Definitely a win in my book.
The other Hilton brand that makes sense is the Hampton Inn. If you are traveling with kids (but maybe not QUITE so many as me 😀 ), then Hampton Inn is probably the way to go. Back in March before the Hilton devaluation, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in St. Charles, MO. It’s now a Category 3 hotel room which also costs 20,000 points a night, but back then it was only 15,000 a night. We got 2 (adjoining) rooms for 3 nights, which cost us 90,000 points. Hampton Inns come with breakfast but not dinner, but it was definitely a good time.
Hilton has a (apparently very little-known) program called MiniBreaks. Here’s what they say about that
Travelling [sic] with children?
Time spent together as a family is very precious. And we know how important it is for everyone to be happy. We’ve taken care of the little things which make all the difference, so everyone has an enjoyable, relaxing stay.
We offer you a whole host of benefits for you and your little ones.
- Children under the age of 18 can stay for free when sharing your room
- If you prefer a separate room for your children, we offer a second room at half-price
- Children up to the age of 10 can eat and drink for free from our children’s menu, which features a range of freshly prepared treats for little ones
- Complimentary access to the hotel swimming pool. Where possible.
To book a family room, or a second room at half price for your children, just call our dedicated Hilton Reservations and Customer Care centre.
I think that this page is geared towards traveling in Europe, both from the spelling of the word ‘centre’ as well as the highlighted map in the lower part of that page, but there’s nothing on the page that says anything about where this offer is or is not valid.
I only found out about this AFTER we had already stayed at our hotel in St. Charles, and when I called the help desk to try and retroactively get the 1/2 price off for my 2nd room, the agents I spoke with really had no idea what I was talking about. We eventually ‘settled’ on them crediting me with 5000 points. I haven’t had a chance to try this in advance, but we might try this for one of the nights on our upcoming trip to Indianapolis next month. If you try it out beforehand, let me know how it goes.
So those are the reasons my #1 hotel brand for points stays is Hilton. The other brand that I think could work would be Marriott, who has hotels like the Residence Inn, which is very similar to Homewood Suites. We stayed in a Residence Inn many years ago in Chicago and were very pleased. The reason I like Hilton better than Marriott is that there are more credit cards out there for Hilton than there are for Marriott, so points are easier to earn.